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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts of activism
(1969)

Warshaw, Laurence
Notes and discussion: intermedia workshop,   pp. 448-454 PDF (5.1 MB)


Page 450

With the Agastat programmer we set up an environment and could move the sounds
from
speaker to speaker anywhere from a quarter of a second to a ten minute sequence.
We turned the lights out and listened to the sound and space interact with
an intimacy
that was completely fresh. The time factor of these sounds moving in a room
while
we moved or remained stationary, as well as the changing program that we
worked with
provided a tremendous experience. We discussed how to mix sound, qualities
of
tape recorders, amplifiers, speakers, provided time for the technical instruction
and
then let the creative ideas develop. Students created tapes ranging from
mixed collage
of sound to synthesized music. Many individuals had no background in the
basic
wiring of speakers, or in the editing of tape. It became important to know
all about
the functioning of a three head tape deck, and how to create an echo effect.
We tried
to set a problem rather than explain a technological entity. You can show
a person a
timing device or a sophisticated programmer, but unless there is a need to
use the
equipment it becomes a factor of linear knowledge rather than a discovery.
We spent
one session composing an exercise for ten speakers set in different parts
of the room,
each next to a listener. We attempted to fly sound from the front of the
room to
the rear, in a circular random pattern, changing the time sequence anywhere
from one
quarter of a second to a maximum of ten minutes. The sound became a force
in itself.
Like a sea that encompassed the total environment we sensed this to be a
force unlike
any in our past experience. It was a communal emotional adventure,
transforming a painting studio into a spatial environment.
We began the section on film techniques with an environment based on the
morality
play EVERYMAN, using the city as the contemporary setting. I thought this
would be an
effective approach because it allowed each individual to seek out his own
meaning
of the dramatic symbolization of Death, Goodness, Kindness, Mortality, etc.
Each
student was asked to keep an idea book of visual terms. I was not looking
for meaning,
but the means for the individual to communicate with himself. We were finished
450         with the word game. Words conveyed no definitions, only movements.
(Emmett
Williams, the poet, once painted words on a group of fish in a tank, so they
could create their own poetry without stopping.) Where was Everyman in Vogue
magazine? Did you see Kindness and Good Deeds in the Subway? Finally we broke
through the vision barrier of taking this city for granted. This EVERYMAN
allegory
was a means of making the city a working reality. Visual questions became
important.
To what degree can abstract and realistic concepts be visually delineated?
What sound forms would be needed?
We filmed basically within the studio. Each student had to bring in photographs,
and pictures that created for him the City of Everyman. Animation techniques
and
experimental projections were combined with film and sound. We set out to
deal
with questions of perception which led to experimentation with multiple projections
on dimensional objects and color. Adolph Karfunkle, president of Chem Optics
came
to demonstrate how he created his optics and discussed his collaboration
with artists.
Karfunkle is a genius with a twinkle in his eye.
Even in the restricted set up of a painting studio loaded with easels, students
would
bring in plastics and with the tools Black and Decker gave us, we built light
boxes
and worked light as an environment tool. Edward Kook, a Broadway lighting
designer
gave me the best advice. "Make them see a sunset and watch it for at
least an hour.
This is where light environments begin, and never forget it." Kook's
advice was
very pertinent. This was the first environment that man had to face. Why
was it
that looking at a fire or watching the ocean gave so many people a deep sense
of
peace. Why did a strobe sometimes bring out epileptic fits in certain individuals?
Between the two extremes of the fire and the strobe, how could we use light
as it reached
the eye to control the time of day, the emotions we wanted to achieve? Build
a wall of light! Build a fountain that would sing as you approached it! The
art and
technology of light design are still to be discovered and created for the
environment


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